Gastrocnemius & Soleus Muscles: Stretch and Strengthen

April 10, 2013

Stretch and strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf)

Gastroc/ Soleus Stretch :

Watch this Video

To affect the Gastrox you need straight legs and to affect the soleus you need to bend your knee, hold both for 90 seconds, or as the video says 3 x 30 seconds on each leg.

Strengthen your Gastroc and Soleus:

Step 1: start with both legs on a step with your legs bent go all the way up on to your tip toes and then all the way down into a minor stretch, go slowly and repeat 25 x with your knees straight then 25 times with your knees bent. 

Step 2 : same but one leg only on teh step. So standing with one leg on the step and a straight knee, go up and down 10x then bend your knee and go up and down 10 more times. Switch legs ad repeat. once you are strong build up to 25x per leg . 25x with straight knees, 25x with bent knees. Therefor you will be doing 100 calf raises, to strengthen both gastrocnemius and soleus. every second day.

see this video for a good description : Video- Skip to 2:00

A little more information about the calf muscles :

Gastrocnemius muscle

Origin superior to articular surfaces of lateral condyle of femur and medial condyle of femur
Insertion    tendo calcaneus (achilles tendon) into mid-posterior calcaneus
Artery sural arteries
Nerve tibial nerve from the sciatic, specifically, nerve roots S1–S2
Actions plantar flexes foot, flexes knee
Antagonist Tibialis anterior muscle

In humans, the gastrocnemius muscle; meaning "stomach of leg", referring to the bulging shape of the calf is a very powerful superficial bipennate muscle that is in the back part of the lower leg. It runs from its two heads just above the knee to the heel, and is involved in standing, walking, running and jumping. Along with the soleus muscle it forms the calf muscle. Its function is plantar flexing the foot at the ankle joint and flexing the leg at the knee joint.

The gastrocnemius is located with the soleus in the posterior (back) compartment of the leg. The lateral head originates from the lateral condyle of the femur, while the medial head originates from the medial condyle of the femur. Its other end forms a common tendon with the soleus muscle; this tendon is known as the calcaneal tendon or Achilles Tendon and inserts onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus, or heel bone.

Clinical significance

The gastrocnemius muscle is prone to spasms, which are painful, involuntary, contractions of the muscle that may last several minutes.

A severe ankle dorsiflexion force may result in an injury of the muscle, commonly referred to as a "torn" or "strained" calf muscle, which is acutely painful and disabling.

The gastrocnemius muscle may also become inflamed due to overuse. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy (heat, massage, and stretching) may be useful.

Anatomical abnormalities involving the medial head of gastrocnemius muscle results in popliteal artery entrapment syndrome.

Soleus muscle

Origin fibula, medial border of tibia (soleal line)
Insertion    tendo calcaneus
Artery sural arteries
Nerve tibial nerve, specifically, nerve roots L5–S2
Actions plantarflexion
Antagonist tibialis anterior

In humans and some other mammals, the soleus is a powerful muscle in the back part of the lower leg (the calf). It runs from just below the knee to the heel, and is involved in standing and walking. It is closely connected to the gastrocnemius muscle and some anatomists consider them to be a single muscle, the triceps surae. Its name is derived from the Latin word, "solea," meaning "sandal."

The soleus is located in the superficial posterior compartment of the leg. Not all mammals have a soleus muscle; one familiar species that lacks the soleus is the dog. The soleus is a complex multi-pennate muscle, usually having a separate (posterior) aponeurosis from the gastrocnemius muscle. A majority of soleus muscle fibers originate from each side of the anterior aponeurosis, attached to the tibia and fibula. Other fibers originate from the posterior (back) surfaces of the head of the fibula and its upper quarter, as well as the middle third of the medial border of the tibia.

The fibers originating from the anterior surface of the anterior aponeurosis insert onto the median septum and the fibers originating from the posterior surface of the anterior aponeurosis insert onto the posterior aponeurosis. The posterior aponeurosis and median septum join in the lower quarter of the muscle and then join with the anterior aponeuroses of the gastrocnemius muscles to form the calcaneal tendon or Achilles tendon and inserts onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus, or heel bone.

Relations

Superficial to the soleus (closer to the skin) is the gastrocnemius muscle.

The plantaris muscle and a portion of its tendon run between the two muscles. Deep to it (farther from the skin) is the transverse intermuscular septum, which separates the superficial posterior compartment of the leg from the deep posterior compartment.

On the other side of the fascia are the tibialis posterior muscle, the flexor digitorum longus muscle, and the flexor hallucis longus muscle, along with the posterior tibial artery and posterior tibial vein and the tibial nerve.

Function

The action of the calf muscles, including the soleus, is plantarflexion of the foot (that is, they increase the angle between the foot and the leg). They are powerful muscles and are vital in walking, running, and dancing. The soleus specifically plays an important role in maintaining standing posture; if not for its constant pull, the body would fall forward.

Also, in upright posture, it is responsible for pumping venous blood back into the heart from the periphery, and is often called the skeletal-muscle pump, peripheral heart or the sural (tricipital) pump.

Soleus muscles have a higher proportion of slow muscle fibers than many other muscles. In some animals, such as the guinea pig and cat, soleus consists of 100% slow muscle fibers. Human soleus fiber composition is quite variable, containing between 60 and 100% slow fibers.

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Prevent. Perform. Recover.

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